Tag Archive | "sonora"

Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

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Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

Posted on 21 October 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra high football team claimed another City Championship, shutting out Sonora 40-0 Friday night at The Pit in La Habra.

The Highlander defense, which held Sonora to 104 yards of total offense, has been dominant for five consecutive games now.

They have outscored opponents a combined 227-17 during that stretch and have yet to allow a touchdown in Freeway League play thus far.

“When you get stops and get them off the field, it gives our offense a chance to score,” said Frank Mazzotta, La Habra head coach. “Anytime you can shut your opponent out, they have no chance of winning.”

Quarterback Zach Fogel moved the ball methodically down the field with both his legs and his arm most of the night.

For the third consecutive week, Mazzotta found spots to weave sophomore quarterback Ryan Zanelli into the Highlanders offense.

Zanelli again took advantage of his opportunities on the field, looking accurate from the pocket and leading the offense down the field.

Mazzotta acknowledged Fogel has been playing better than ever the past five weeks, but said he enjoys getting to see what his young quarterback can do against the opponents first teamers.  

“To me it’s fun,” he said. “I really have fun with it.”

Anyone who has been around the La Habra football program knows how much he likes to give all of his players an opportunity to shine on Friday nights.

With his fourth quarter touchdown pass to senior Steven Saucedo, Zanelli has found the end zone in all three of his appearances.

The Raiders kept the game within striking distance for most of the first half.

It was 12-0 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. That’s when Fogel scrambled left and found Mitchell Anderson in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score to widen the gap.

A Nate Ulloa interception late in the third quarter set up Skyler Taylor’s 70-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Taylor finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns.

La Habra (6-2, 3-0) will host last season’s League Champs, Buena Park (1-7, 0-3), who have been scuffling next Friday.

Despite the score, Sonora (5-3, 1-2) has vastly improved from a season ago, in which they were winless. The Raiders will take on Sunny Hills (6-2, 1-2) in a pivotal game for both schools next week at Buena Park High School.

“The thing I love is that these kids now give themselves a chance to compete with a team of [La Habra’s] caliber,” said Daniel Morales, Sonora head coach. “I’m proud of the work they put in all year to get bigger and stronger.”

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Rebuilt Raiders look to reap their redemption

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Rebuilt Raiders look to reap their redemption

Posted on 02 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

To say last season was rough for the Sonora Raiders might be an understatement. It was a new coach with a new system working with a team that lost the majority of its veteran and skilled players.
However, second year Head Coach Daniel Morales is optimistic for this season.
“This season, we have a lot to prove,” Morales said. “We’re still a young team and staff, but I’m happy with how hard the guys have worked. We are a lot stronger and bigger this year.”
Morales noted that he has some veterans coming back, but likes what he sees in the younger players that are continuing to build their skills.
Senior Ryan Martinez will be the Raider starter at quarterback.
He will have a host of Raiders to throw to, including senior tight end Troy McDonald and receivers Josh Gonzalez and Derek Cole. He will also have Cal-committed Chigozie Anusiem who will spend time on both sides of the ball as receiver and corner.
Running back Chandler Thompson will head up the Raider ground attack, along with sophomore Ryan Loudon.
On defense, Morales said senior Tommy Mendrin should have a big year at safety. Edward Medina, Alan Huerta and Anusiem will help round out the Raider secondary.
Morales said he likes what he is seeing in his linebacking corps. Thompson and Trent Rodriguez are set to start, with others rotating in.
Morales said the Raider line is shaping up well on both sides of the ball. Anchored by Calvin Chuayiuso, Jose Lopez and all league lineman Sebastian Perez, Sonora should have an imposing front.
The Raiders will be hungry for their first win since their first-round CIF victory over Tustin in 2015.
Morales noted the Freeway League is on a different spot this year with new coaching staffs at Troy and Buena Park and a second-year coach at Sunny Hills. He said Sonora will play hard and, as long as they stay healthy, they will battle for a playoff spot.
The Raiders open up at home against Whittier High School on August 25.
Sonora looks to avenge last year’s opening-day 16-0 loss against the Cardinals (5-5,2-3). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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Sonora alum seeks to highlight human spirit in award-winning film

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Sonora alum seeks to highlight human spirit in award-winning film

Posted on 19 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The actress sat by the window on the set and looked out, just as she was supposed to do. Everything was set to shoot the first scene. The director shouted his commands and then said the magic line, “Action.” That’s when the actress, Gitane Neil, stopped, looked at the director and said to him in a serious “Cory, come here.” The director, Cory Reeder, got up and went to the young actress. She looked at him and asked, “can I have a hug?”
The two hugged and the actress smiled and said, “I’m ready.” Reeder went back to his chair and shooting of the film “Best Friend” began.

Filmmaker and Sonora alumni Cory Reeder (center) directs actress Gitane Neil (right) while producing the short film “Best Friend,”which won the Best Film award for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

Reeder, a filmmaker and Sonora High School graduate, and his crew shot “Best Friend” in one day as part of the 2017 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. The short film, which chronicles the light-hearted story of a family relocating from New York to Los Angeles and the concerns of a young girl with Down Syndrome to find a friend.
This marked the fourth year Reeder entered the contest, but the first year that he swept the awards by netting Best Film and Best Awareness Campaign.
While he enjoyed winning the top award, Reeder acknowledged that it was something else that motivated him to make the film.
“Currency of the heart,” he said. “There were just moments like that hug, that the audience doesn’t get to see that makes it worth it. “
Reeder has been making films since before he started attending Sonora. He explained that his interest in film was fueled by his father.
“My parents divorced when I was young,” he explained. “When my dad would come visit, we would always see a movie, sometimes two or three a weekend. It was a bonding time.”
That bonding time fueled Reeder’s creative nature. He already had a passion for music and in particular the drums, but film was something different. It was art, it was storytelling, it was an escape.

Sonora alum and filmmaker Cory Reeder

Reeder had to deal with challenges early on. His mother battled cancer. Then when he was finishing junior high his older sister was killed, which sent his family into a depression. His mother’s cancer came back, this time she wasn’t able to fight it off.
Reeder, a Sonora swimmer and water polo player at this time, hit, what he called a rough time. He credits some of his teachers at Sonora as helping out.
“My coach, Jack Hawkins, was pretty in tune with what was going on and helped me,” he said. “He kept an eye out.”
He also credits his art teacher, Doug Stanton, as a guy that helped him through the loss of his mother and sister. Reeder explained he was always into drawing, but Stanton showed him his collection of VHS tapes.
“He told me if you’re ever having a bad day, you can come here and watch movies,” Reeder explained. He said Stanton was the first to show him the “non-blockbuster” films.
“He had me watch this movie ‘Eraserhead’ and wanted me to write a report on it,” he said. “I watched it three or four times to find a point and I finally realized there wasn’t a point…it was avant garde and could provoke thought.”
It was then Reeder said he realized the art of films.
He went to Fullerton College then Cal State Fullerton where he studied film and also continued to pursue his other passion of music by playing in local bands.
He started shooting short films in and around La Habra and music videos of his friends. But he scored big when he got a gig working for Ridley Scott’s production company.
Reeder went on to create his own film company, Renaissance Man Productions. He was also playing in a band, which was a house band at The Roxy in Hollywood.
He explained that he finally committed fully to filmmaking when he was hired to shoot a music video and he destroyed his drums as part of the video.
Reeder got connected to the Disability Film Challenge when he had to cast a little person in a film he was doing. The actor, Nic Novicki, was working to develop the challenge. Reeder said once he started shooting, he was hooked.
Reeder said he tries to do what he can to hire skilled individuals with disabilities. He also looks to hire women and said he loves to have them work in roles that have traditionally been for men in Hollywood.
Reeder said the film challenge is just part of his production process now. He will continue working with the challenge and being somewhat of an advocate to help Hollywood to become more inclusive.
He’s looking to make Best Friend into a feature length film and continuing writing and making more films.
For Reeder, the 50 hugs a day from Neil during production, makes everything he does worth it.

Watch the award winning “Best Friend” short film by clicking  HERE

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Highlanders roll Sonora, extend both streaks

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Highlanders roll Sonora, extend both streaks

Posted on 15 October 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra High School football team continues to reach uncharted territory with every win, and this week against Sonora the Highlanders extended their county record league winning streak to 47 with a 56-0 blowout over the rival Raiders.

La Habra once again took the Mayor's Trophy for the city championship with a 56-0 win over Sonora Friday.

La Habra once again took the Mayor’s Trophy for the city championship with a 56-0 win over Sonora Friday.

The Highlanders put up 50 points before the halftime gun sounded, with a eye-popping 36 in the first quarter alone.

With a big lead early, Head Coach Frank Mazzotta used the opportunity to get a lot of the younger players reps, which he has been talking about needing to do all season long.

“It means everything, there are so many kids who show up to practice everyday and work their butts off, to give them a chance to play under the lights, I love that, it’s one of my favorite things to do,” Mazzotta said.

Sonora couldn’t get anything going offensively all night and had a handful of miscues in the first 10 minutes, which gave the heavily favored Highlanders easy scoring opportunities.

Before the seats got warm La Habra had a commanding 22-0 lead.

Pervis Henderson had a 1-yard touchdown grab and Eli Anderson carried the ball in from 3 yards out on the Highlanders’ first two possessions, with 10:41 remaining in the opening frame.

 On the Raiders next possession, Cameron Rivas held up Ethan Cook at the line of scrimmage and Madison Wheeler ripped the ball away for a 9-yard touchdown return on the fumble.

“On any given day, they are a good team, regardless of what their record might say, they’re a good team and on any given day you can get beat,” Rivas said. “So you just have to go out there and bring your A game.”

On the ensuing kickoff, Chigozie Anusiem looked to be attempting to deploy a reverse, but wound up backtracking a couple feet into the end zone, where he was downed for a safety.

The Highlanders added a couple additional scores when quarterback Zach Fogel hit both Prince Ross and Derrick Corso for touchdowns of 22 and 23 yards respectively.

By the time the second quarter rolled around, the game was already out of hand for Sonora. However, despite the lopsided loss, Head Coach Daniel Morales was proud of his team for continuing to battle until the final whistle.

“I applaud them for that, it’s not easy to do, [La Habra’s] a really great team, they’ve been great for a long time and they’ll continue to be great,” Morales said. “Where we are at right now, we were just not ready for a test like that, but these guys I’m so proud of them for giving everything they got until the very end.”

Morales was a former Highlander player and coach prior to taking over at Sonora.

Afterwards, Rivas shared a moment with his former coach, Morales.

La Habra Head Coach Frank Mazzota shakes hands with Sonora Head Coach Daniel Morales after the Highlander's city championship win. Morales once played for Mazzota at LHHS.

La Habra Head Coach Frank Mazzota shakes hands with Sonora Head Coach Daniel Morales after the Highlander’s city championship win. Morales once played for Mazzota at LHHS.

“I just told him they got a hell of a coaching staff and to just keep their heads up and keep fighting because it’s a process,” Rivas said.

“The kids from this city have a lot of fight, I love coaching the kids from this city,” Morales said. “I am from here and I am proud of all of my guys.”

The Highlander defense held Sonora to three first downs in the first half, with a pair of them coming on penalties.

Fogel threw for 122 yards and three touchdowns, while Anderson gained 59 and two scores on the ground, with just four carries on the night.

Romeo Mergerson made his backfield debut for the Highlanders in the third quarter, carrying the ball down the field on just one series and totaled 51 yards with a touchdown.

The Highlanders (4-3, 2-0) stiffest test in league awaits, as they will travel the Buena Park (6-1, 2-0) next Friday.

Sonora (0-7, 0-2) will look to get into the win column when they host Sunny Hills (5-2, 1-1) at La Habra High School next Friday.

“I think we are getting better every week, that’s what I like,” Mazzotta said.

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Lady Highlanders sweep rivalry series with four-set win

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Lady Highlanders sweep rivalry series with four-set win

Posted on 14 October 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra traveled across town to Sonora High School to conclude the season series in volleyball and walked away with a

La Habra's Marina Pilkington tries to his a shot past Sonora's Sophia Kane and Kyra Sims Thursday at Sonora.

La Habra’s Marina Pilkington tries to hit a shot past Sonora’s Sophia Kane and Kyra Sims Thursday at Sonora.

nearly identical performance as the previous meeting, taking three-of-four sets in convincing fashion Thursday night.



Senior Marina Pilkington wasn’t available a couple weeks ago when the two teams met at La Habra, but she certainly made her presence felt with 10 kills and a host of blocks, including an emphatic spike for match point and the 25-16 victory.

La Habra Head Coach Adrianne Spear said she was really pleased with the way the girls responded after a tough five-set loss to Troy.

“We came off a tough loss to Troy, we took them to five and I was hoping that wouldn’t affect us, but take all that energy from the previous game and carry it over to tonight,” Spear said. “I think the girls saw their capability from that game, came out and said we can do this.”

La Habra's Carly Richter helps lead the Lady Highlanders on the court during their 3-1 win over Sonora Thursday.

La Habra setter Carly Richter helps lead the Lady Highlanders on the court during their 3-1 win over Sonora Thursday.

Spear had high-praise for Pilkington and freshman Carly Richter, who she said are the catalysts for the team.

“Marina for sure gets us going when she is out there, and so does Carly Richter,” Spear said. “With those two paired together, it’s what keeps us going.”

Richter’s maturity and understanding of the game at such a young age has impressed her coach this season.

“Carly sees the game really well, and she has a really high volleyball IQ, she sees things that a lot of people don’t see, so we coach her up, but we also let her do her own thing out there,” Spear said. “It was funny, even the referee said, ‘wow, she really runs the show out there doesn’t she.’”

Carly Richter finished with 17 digs on the night.

Junior Taylor Richter lead the Lady Highlanders with 11 kills.

The Lady Highlanders (10-11, 4-3) took the first set 25-14 and looked to be cruising along in the second set with a 16-12 lead midway through.

However, Sonora (13-10, 3-4) roared back to tie it at 18, and then took their first lead on the next serve. La Habra fought back to tie it 22-22, but the Raiders closed out the set with three straight winners to bring the sets even.

Lad Highlander Kimberely Gamez fires one at Sonora's Sophia Kane and Arianna Gonzalez.

Lady Highlander Kimberely Gamez fires one at Sonora’s Sophia Kane and Arianna Gonzalez.

“Sometimes we let teams sneak back up and take us,” Spear said. “We still need to learn how to overcome that.”

The third set was a total back-and-forth battle. Neither team could extend more than a three-point lead until La Habra closed out the set exactly like Sonora did in the second, scoring the sets final three points for the 25-19 win.

Both teams next game will be on Tuesday. Sonora will be at Sunny Hills (14-14, 5-2) while La Habra will be back home to take on Buena Park (2-10, 0-7).

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La Habra controls home court in rivalry match

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La Habra controls home court in rivalry match

Posted on 27 September 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

After jumping out to an early lead only to watch it slip away in the opening set, the Lady Highlanders volleyball team bounced back to win three straight and pull off the four-set upset victory over Sonora Monday night at home.

Lady Highlanders celebrate after a score on their way to a home win against Sonora Monday.

Lady Highlanders celebrate after a score on their way to a home win against Sonora Monday.

La Habra jumped out to an early lead in front of the home crowd, outscoring the Raiders 8-2 to begin the match. After trailing 16-8 in the first, Sonora stormed back to tie it at 20, then outscored the Lady Highlanders 5-1 down the stretch to close out the set.

Coming into the game, Sonora (11-7) sported the better record and the momentum appeared to be shifting after the team’s slow start.

“I’m proud of them for not giving up after that first game,” said Adrianne Spear, La Habra head coach. “To have that 8-point lead and give it away in a matter of minutes, we knew we had to focus and eliminate the mistakes, and we did.”LHJ Guadalupe Park

However, La Habra (7-8) bounced right back to take early leads in the second and third sets and never relinquished the position.

The fourth set was back-and-forth all the way through a 12-12 tie, before La Habra pulled away with a 13-3 run to close out the match.

Sisters Victoria and Haley Rollins teamed up to dominate the net for La Habra. Victoria finished with nine kills and 11 blocks. The younger Rollins, Haley pitched in seven kills and eight blocks.

Taylor Richter, La Habra’s leading scorer this season, missed on several scoring opportunities in the first two sets, but finished strong. Richter notched five of her six kills in the third and fourth, and gave her team a boost with four aces as well.

Sophomore Ariana Gonzalez had an efficient game at the net for SLHJ Guadalupe Parkonora, finishing with eight kills and 12 blocks. Sonora Head Coach Andrew Johnson admitted afterwards that his team needs to do a better job of getting Gonzalez more scoring opportunities.

Spear was impressed with her team’s resilience and said competing against talented teams over the weekend in La Jolla without one of their top scorers, Marina Pilkington, helped boost their confidence.

“When we lost Marina, it forced us to really work together as a team,” Spear said. “I think having to figure that out this weekend really helped us a lot tonight.”

Both teams play again Wednesday night. La Habra will be at Buena Park (2-5), while Sonora will be at home taking on Sunny Hills (6-6).

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LH native scores big with burgers

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LH native scores big with burgers

Posted on 05 May 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

There’s something to be said about being an individual when it comes to starting your own business. This is true for Sonora alumni and growing restaurateur Joseph Mahon as he opened his second Burger Parlor restaurant this week.

Burger Meister: La Habra native Joseph Mahon stands just before the opening of his second Burger Parlor Restaurant. The Sonora alumni always dreamed of being a chef and owning a restaurant.

Burger Meister: La Habra native Joseph Mahon stands just before the opening of his second Burger Parlor Restaurant. The Sonora alumni always dreamed of being a chef and owning a restaurant.

Mahon knew what he wanted to do at a young age.  While many of his family members were making their name in the world of running and track (his cousin Terrence went on to be an Olympic distance running coach), Joseph had other plans.
“I needed to carve my own path,” he explained.  “That’s been my way my whole life.  I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum.”
What Mahon wanted to do was to be a chef and own his own restaurant.  He admits that he was a bit rambunctious while he was in junior high school at Our Lady of Guadalupe School.  However, he would tell his mother not to worry, he would own his own restaraunt some day.
The seeds of a budding chef were planted early in Mahon. His mother valued eating and cooking, so little Joseph took in those values too.  His individual spirit in his early teens did cause him to get into trouble, but he used his punishment to hone in on his future.
Mahon explained that he was “grounded a lot,” but that allowed him to watch “Great Chefs Great Cities” on PBS.  “It was an amazing program,” he said.
He never wavered in his desire to cook.  His grandmother gave him her 400 cookbooks so he could continue to develop his passion for cooking.
While his cousins and older brother attended La Habra High School, Joseph, always the individual, spent his freshman year at Servite, and then transferred to Sonora for his high school education.
He started cooking professionally at 16.  After a quick stint at a tea house,  he was hired to cook at Mulberry Street Restaurant in Downtown Fullerton where he worked for two years.
“I saved up my paychecks,” Mahon explained. “I wanted my parents to see that I was serious about going to the Culinary Arts Institute of America.”
So, finally, at 19, he headed to the school in New York  to take the next step in  fulfilling his dream.

La Habra native Joseph Mahon opeens his second Burger Parlor. This one in Old Town Orange.

La Habra native Joseph Mahon opeens his second Burger Parlor. This one in Old Town Orange.

I worked for some of the most well known restaurants in New York, Paris and London. He was able to work with and learn from some of the most respected chefs including Daniel Boulud, Andrew Carmellini and Gordon Ramsay.
After spending six years in New York, it was time that the La Habra native headed back to the West Coast.
Mahon spent five years working in LA fine dining scene.  It was then he met his wife and he decided to make the move to owning his own restaurant.
After what he explains as a “good learning  experience” with his first restaurant concept, The Early Bird, he moved to burgers.
“I just wanted to improve on the existing burger place that I grew up with,” he explained.
What started up as a pop-up restaurant idea in 2011 became the brick and mortar restaurant Burger Parlor today.
When we started off the concept, I knew what I wanted,” the business owner explained.  “Small businesses often open without a plan.  I had a plan, a guide and an agenda of how I wanted it to feel and be.”
Now with the opening of his second restaurant, Mahon cites the staff as the reason for Burger Parlor’s success.
“I like investing in my team,” he said with a smile. “I invest more in people, because our people are Burger Parlor.”
The married father of two never lost sight of his goal and made good on the promise he made to his parents when he was a teen.
He said he is happy that he can bring the skills he learned back to the communities that helped shape him.
“We want people who want to come to us for a consistent quality product.,” he said. “They need to eat somewhere, we just want people to eat with us.”


Burger Parlor

204 N. Harbor Blvd.
(714) 441-2003

149 N. Glassell St.
(714) 602-8282


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Raider grapplers pillage Freeway League Finals

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Raider grapplers pillage Freeway League Finals

Posted on 13 February 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The Sonora wrestling team hit the mats with high expectations and delivered champions in seven different weight classes at the Freeway League tournament Friday night, but it was a firstyear wrestler that stole the show.Lions Pasta Fest 2016

Sonora 285-pound champion Jorge Bernabe was named MVP of the heavier weights after notching his second fall in the title match against Juan Lopez of Troy. Sonora Head Coach David Carrizosa was especially impressed with Bernabe, a former football player who never wrestled prior to this, his senior, year.

“I had been trying to get him out for four years to wrestle,” Carrizosa said. “He finally came out, but it’s funny because he had this promise, he said, ‘coach I’ll come out if you make me league champion,’ and I said ‘sure.’”

Sonora's Chucky Chavez puts Buena Park's Josh Vargas in an awkward position on his way to win the 152-pound title.

Sonora’s Chucky Chavez puts Buena Park’s Josh Vargas in an awkward position on his way to win the 152-pound title.

Carrizosa made good on his promise, now he feels that Bernabe has a good chance at CIF and possibly further. He is hoping that Bernabe’s success will, “trigger more football players to come out for wrestling.”

“He barely started wrestling in January,” Carrizosa said. “He was late to the party, but his only losses were to top ranked guys in the state and he held his own with them.”

The Raiders hope to have at least one wrestler enter the CIF tournament as a No. 1 seed next week at Citrus Hill High School in Moreno Valley. Josh Kawaguchi won the 160-pound weight class, marking his second Freeway League title.

“Josh should be seeded first, he’s a returning CIF Champion,” Carrizosa said. “He is up three weight classes at 160, but based on the criteria he should be first–he was and State qualifier [in 2015].”

Carrizosa pointed out that Bernabe could earn a top seed in the CIF Tournament as well. He said that his record is (15-2) this season, adding that, “his only losses came against top-ranked guys in the state.”

 Sonora's Nate Avila takes control over Troy's Jacob Alderson in the 138-pound weight class.

Sonora’s Nate Avila takes control over Troy’s Jacob Alderson in the 138-pound weight class.

Sonora’s Isaiah Perez (113), Hiwad Stanekzai (120), Nate Avila (138), Jacob Pelayo (145) and Chucky Chavez (152) were all crowned Freeway League Champions as well.

In addition to the seven league champs, the Raiders also had two additional league placers, giving the team a total of nine CIF qualifiers, the same number they had last year. Carlos Castilla (195) and Sebastian Perez (220) both finished third.

La Habra High School qualified four wrestlers for the tournament next week. La Habra’s Edward Medina (132)  took third after beating Solomon Than of Sonora. Brandon Murry (145) took third after beating Luke Boyd of Buena Park. Carlos Castilla (195) pulled off a second-period fall

La Habra's Wayne Nicholson Worksto turn Sonora's Hiwad Stanekzai in the 120-pount championship match.

La Habra’s Wayne Nicholson Worksto turn Sonora’s Hiwad Stanekzai in the 120-pount championship match.

against Eddie Estrada to take third and qualify for the CIF tournament.  Wayne Nicholson (120), lead the Highlanders with his second-place finish in the tournament.

Adrian Diaz (132) of Troy High School was named MVP of the lighter weights.

Freeway League qualifiers have a long bus ride in their future. The CIF tournament will be next Friday at Citrus Hill High School, located 45 miles away in Perris.

Click here for more photos from the tournament.

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Lady Raiders retooled, refocused  and ready for season

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Lady Raiders retooled, refocused and ready for season

Posted on 05 August 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Lady Raiders Volleyball team took steps towards establishing themselves as a threat in Freeway League last season.
Sonora’s finished with  a 6-4 league record, and now look to build on their success.
The Lady Raiders welcome back  two of last season’s stars, Nicole Fraga and Allie Beattie.
This year the hope is  that the duo will be joined by a more balanced and deep supporting cast.
“We have a lot of girls with three, four years varsity experience, highlighted with Nicole Fraga and Allie Beattie,” said Andrew Johnson, Raiders head coach.
Last year Beattie was forced to sit out the first month of the season, due to CIF eligibility rules after transferring from Troy High School.
However it did not take Beattie long to establish herself as one of  the top outside hitters in the league.  Despite only playing 22 sets for the Raiders, her 128 kills was second on the team (Fraga was first). She lead the team averaging nearly 6 kills per set. With her senior season ahead, she is poised to be an impact player for the Raiders.
“It takes a lot of pressure off the girls, with those two girls, there’s a lot that we rely on them, and they have the strong shoulders to carry the load,” Johnson said.
With Beattie sidelined in the first part of last season, Nicole Fraga took on the role of star and leader, guiding her team through the preseason and their first league game.
Incoming senior Fraga lead the Lady Raiders with 291 kills last season and  also established herself as a top outside hitter and versatile player for the Raiders.
The Raiders intend to take their next step with a focus on defense and ball control.
The team has  made defensive technique a point of emphasis in practice, because Johnson believes offense can come easy.
“Defense comes down to effort and wanting to keep that ball alive,” Johnson said.
The Raiders’ improved ball control he expects should speed up their offense so they can move from defense to offense quickly. He has decided to hold off on implementing offensive plays until they get into the season.
The Raiders beat Sunny Hills, Fullerton, and Buena Park, but were unable to get past La Habra and Troy last season. This year Johnson said he expects that to change and the Raiders as a viable threat for a league title.
However, with that as a goal, Johnson continues to keep the players focused on one match at a time.
Johnson has the Lady Raiders focused on bringing a top-notch effort and work ethic, rather than looking over their shoulders at Troy and La Habra.
“As soon as you start looking on the other side of the net and taking away what you need to do, all of a sudden we’re playing catch up,” Johnson said.  “It’s up to them. We want to set the standard by just a good work ethic and making sure we do the things that we do well, and whatever weaknesses we have we cover that in practice.”
Johnson said that the Raiders focus on hard work ethic will help to create  balance. Rather than relying too heavily on Fraga and Beattie, they  intend to find success in their depth.
“Injuries happen and you have to be able to adjust,” Johnson added. “What’s nice is having depth, having girls that can come in off the bench with experience and get the job done.”
An improvement from last year will be by the Raiders’ middle and right hitters, along with an improvement in back row passing.
“We have the ability to be a nice well-rounded team,” Johnson said.
With strong leaders, a large number of returning players and a commitment to continued improvement, Johnson is optimistic for the Lady Raiders’ success this season.
“We’re going to have a really good product to show, out there.”

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From Sonora to the diamond

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From Sonora to the diamond

Posted on 01 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

La Habra native and long time ESPN the magazine reporter and writer has her first book despite not starting out that way.

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Sometimes teachers can have an influence on a person long after they leave the classroom. Such is the case for sports reporter and new author, Molly Knight.

Sonora Alumna Molly Knight

Sonora Alumna Molly Knight

While attending Sonora High School, Knight had visions of becoming a doctor.  She natually excelled in her IB science courses. However, seeds were planted in of all places, her English classes, that would have a great influence in her life.
“I always had teachers at Sonora who would push me toward writing  and complemented my writing,” Knight explained.  “But I resisted because I’d think, ‘I’m a math or science person’ .  I was always surprised to get As in my English classes.  I just didn’t think of myself as a writer.”
After she graduated from Sonora in 1999, Knight went to Stanford where she studied biology, with her goal still pointed toward medical school, but the seeds that were planted by Marjie Blevins and Marilyn Middleton, her high school English teachers grew.
“They were instrumental in where I am today,” Knight explained. “I had a lot of teenage angst and they made me feel like I could get into a good college and do something great. They really are amazing.”
By her senior year at Stanford, Knight explained that she couldn’t take another organic chemistry class and decided that she liked writing and she wanted to become a writer. Knight jacket (2)
Some of her friends were moving to New York and Knight felt at the time that she needed to start over.
So she packed up and moved to New York to start her life as a writer.
She had no experience or training at all, but that didn’t stop her. She worked as a bartender and wrote  at coffee shops.
She started reviewing CDs for an indie rock magazine.  Then interned at a business magazine. She applied for an internship at FHM magazine and they hired her.  After a year, one of her editors moved to ESPN magazine and she followed.
She freelanced for ESPN and covered a variety of  topics and features.
In 2011, they sent Knight to Los Angeles to cover the divorce and legal preceding of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
“It was crazy because the story kept going,” Knight explained. “It was one of the first things that was really mine at ESPN.”
She found herself writing for ESPN online, doing some television work and writing for the magazine.
She enjoyed the work, and got to know some of the players and decided to move back to California.
It was at that time that players and Dodger personnel suggested to Knight that she write a book about the team.
“I blew it off at first, but then I thought, maybe I should,” she explained.
“The Best Team Money Can Buy” chronicles the story  of the Dodgers as they transitioned from the profit driven McCourt debacle and drama of his ownership to the new ownership that has a commitment to winning.
“I’m pretty straightforward,” Knight admitted.  “It’s mainly about the players, their lives and the personalities.”
Knight added that she is fascinated with extraordinary people and that is what fueled her interest in writing about the Dodgers.
She stopped working for ESPN and spent a year working solely on the book, delving deep into the team and all the surroundings.
She is excited and looking forward to the book’s release in time for the MLB All Star Game on July 14.
She is open to her future, and is just kind of taking it day by day to see where things go.
“People ask me if I’ll write another book,” she explained. “I don’t know.  It has to be an extraordinary  story.”
For now, Knight will continue to enjoy Southern California and what life is like as a published author.


Molly Knight book signing July 31

Ezaki Dentistry
16336 E. Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

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